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‘Your govt doesn’t support us’: Indian students allege raw deal from some Ukrainian teachers

Several Indian medical students, who have returned following Russian invasion of Ukraine, say a section of their teachers believe they might reflect New Delhi's 'pro-Russia' position.

The group of 170 students from Kharkiv which Bavendrasinh was a part of had left their bunkers in Kharkiv where they had taken refuge for six days before walking down to Kharkiv railway station to board a train as directed. (File)

Many Indian students pursuing medical courses in Ukraine, who returned home following Russia’s invasion of that country in February, seem to be uncertain about going back to their universities. They have attributed it to various factors ranging from “lack of support” from a section of Ukrainian teachers and local residents to matters related to their safety and security.

A number of these medical students have told indianexpress.com that such teachers and locals allegedly hold it against them that New Delhi has not supported Ukraine in this Russia-waged war, which, they apparently believe, was reflected by the Indian students’ stance on the issue.

Several students also said they faced violence and unfair treatment at the hands of the Ukrainian forces at the war-torn east European country’s borders as they were trying to move to safety.

On the question whether they would return to their universities to continue their courses when the situation improves in Ukraine, the students appeared to be unclear and indecisive.

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Border violence to online class hostility

Kanchan Rajbhar, a third-year MBBS student at Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University, said they confronted several issues while trying to leave Ukraine. “When we were at the border, we faced difficulties because the Ukrainian soldiers were not allowing us to cross the border. They were threatening us that if we don’t get back and let Ukrainians cross then they will shoot (at us). And they tried shooting, they fired in the air. Luckily, we didn’t get hurt. But they also used pepper spray which caused asthma attacks in some of us,” recalled Rajbhar.

Some students also charged that they were being “punished” by not being taught properly during the online classes as their Ukrainian teachers believed that India was “backing” Russia in its war on their country.

Rajbhar said after the students returned to India and started joining their universities’ online classes they realised that some of their teachers were not supporting them. “Some friends of mine from other colleges shared screenshots of some teachers telling them that ‘your country supports Russia because they buy oil and gas from them, they should stop this. You should protest against this’,” she said.

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Mukul Chaudhary, a third-year MBBS student at Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University, said, “Ukraine is like a second home to me, but some of our lecturers and even my local friends have told me that I do not support Ukraine because they feel that if the Government of India supports Russia, then all of us might share the same view. I have tried telling the teachers and friends that all of that is diplomacy and I have no comment on that, but they don’t believe that.” He, however, added, “Not all lecturers are like that. There are a very few who do that but those few exist.”

Sharing a similar experience, Ram*, a second-year MBBS student at Sumy State Medical University, said: “There have been voice notes where our lecturer told us that why should I teach you if your government does not support us”.

‘Change in attitude’

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These students alleged that they faced discrimination from some of their Ukrainian teachers and that they observed a change in their attitude from the initial days of their online lectures. A student, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that Indian students “face rude behaviour” of some of their teachers during their online classes. “They talk to students from Nigeria and other nations very nicely, but they are rude towards us,” said Rajbhar.

Mahrukh Nigar Zaman, a first-year MBBS student of Sumy State University, told indianexpress.com that a handful of teachers have also told Indian students during the online classes to urge the Indian government to back Ukraine.

Zaman said a few of their teachers have also been asking them not to shift to another country to complete their courses. “They tell us in online classes that ‘you tell your government to support us and not to send you to other countries’. They want us to return to their country,” he said.

Flagging that only a section of their teachers betray such attitude although the issue has been widely discussed among the students, Sreejani Guha, a third-year MBBS student at Ivano-Franvisk National Medical University, said, “Some days are bad, on those days they (such teachers) become a bit rude. It is not just towards us, but also towards a friend of ours from Nigeria,” she said. “Ukraine was a very safe country, especially for women, and people were very welcoming. So this was never a worry for us earlier but now if we have to return to Ukraine, security will be an issue for us.”

(*Name changed on request)

First published on: 06-05-2022 at 07:00:29 am
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